Ready to Hit

Jay Valai has gotten in some limited work this spring coming off of back surgery. Luckily, his mouth hasn't missed a beat – Valai, who claims to have "ADD on the football field", is one of the most entertaining interviews on the team. Now, Valai wants to be one of the biggest hitters on the team.

Badger Nation: How's spring going?

Jay Valai: Aching, but I'm getting out there. Healing and playing, you know?

BN: Is it more difficult during spring without the weekly regiment that ends in a game?

JV: You want to knock somebody out. You want to play in front of 60, 80,000 people, but it is what it is. You've got to do it to get better, and take every day for what it's worth. Don't let every day just go to waste.

BN: Especially being dinged up, does that make spring a little harder?

JV: It's easy to get up and practice, but I just want to play sometimes. You've got to be smart about it, I'm still young so I want to save my body a little bit, that's what the coaches told me.

BN: With all the experience lost on the front seven, but everybody back in the secondary except for Allen Langford, have the defensive backs taken on a leadership role?

JV: We've got to be the leaders of the defense. It's now or never. If we're not the leaders now, there's something wrong with you, if you don't want to be a leader. We've got this opportunity now after three years to be a leader, and I'm never going to be one if not now, especially as the oldest group on the field.

It's great experience, with the depth that we have back there, it's a major contributor to our team. I'm pretty sure the safeties have probably the most starts on the defense, so that should help us out on the football field.

BN: How do you guys benefit from having four capable safeties in the mix?

JV: We've got to push each other, that's the biggest thing. You never should be relaxed, because you never know what can happen. We're all good at what we do, and we're all ready to play too. It's good altogether.

BN: How are the younger cornerbacks coming along?

JV: The corners are coming up. Antonio Fenelus, he's picking it up a lot at corner. Some of the young boys behind the young/old guys like Aaron Henry over here (gestures to Henry), who needs a lot of fish oil for his knees as an old, rusty man at 29. Young boys like Otis (Merrill) and Devin Smith, Antonio and (Marcus) Cromartie, they're all getting experience on the football field, so it helps them out.

BN: With all the penalties last season, it's clear the coaches are getting harder on everybody to limit the mistakes. Are the guys learning that pretty quickly?

JV: We'd better, or (defensive coordinator Dave) Doeren will be yanking all of us out. You'd better learn, or you're going to be out of the game, one of the two. Coach Doeren treats everybody the same, that's one thing I respect a lot. If you make a mistake, you're gonna get pulled or at least yelled at. I respect that about Coach Doeren.

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